What Are You Waiting For?

What’s the matter, writer? That blank page in front of you got you down?

You say your bucket of creative motivation is empty? You fear the procrastination monster has come to stay? And the writer’s block is too big to overcome so you’re waiting for the magic writing fairy to land on your shoulder and deliver perfect pages of prose, sublime sonnets, or perhaps inspirational ideas?

Well, get over it. It isn’t going to happen.

Here’s a newsflash:  Your dreamy muse is busy elsewhere with a happy rainbow unicorn in a field of delicious, colorful jelly beans under a marshmallow sky and not likely to return anytime soon.

In the meantime, here’s a word of advice, a solution to your problem:  write.

Probably A Good Idea

Here’s a list of forbidden and off-limits titles, subjects, and story ideas originally attributed to a creative writing teacher for a class tasked with writing stories for children. Also seems applicable to anyone involved in creating flash fiction involving young readers and writers. Not sure if I should laugh or cringe.

  1. You Are Different And That’s Bad
  2. The Boy Who Died From Eating All His Vegetables
  3. Fun Four Letter Words To Learn And Share
  4. Hammers, Screwdrivers, And Scissors: An “I-Can-Do-It” Book
  5. The Kid’s Guide To Hitchhiking
  6. Curious George And The High Voltage Fence
  7. The Little Crybaby Who Snitched
  8. That’s It: I’m Putting You Up For Adoption
  9. Grandpa Gets A Casket
  10. Where To Hide Those Peas You Don’t Want To Eat
  11. The Magic World Inside The Abandoned Refrigerator
  12. Garfield Gets Feline Leukemia
  13. Fun Things To Do With Matches
  14. Strangers Have The Best Candy
  15. Your Nightmares Are Real
  16. Where Would You Like To Be Buried?
  17. Why Can’t Mr. Fork And Ms. Electric Outlet Be Friends?
  18. Places Where Mommy And Daddy Hide Neat Things
  19. Making Grown-Up Friends On The Internet
  20. 101 Fun Games To Play In The Highway
  21. You Can’t Hide It If You Are Stupid
  22. I Dare You! 101 Challenges To Prove You Are Not A Coward
  23. Trixie Goes To The Big City
  24. The Pop-Up Book Of Human Anatomy

 

Creating A Lovable Villain

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Check out the blog writersinthestorm for some wonderful tips in a short, well-written article about creating a lovable villain by award-winning author Shannon Donnelly (Under The Kissing Bough) as she speaks of “villains we love to hate and how to keep them from becoming a cardboard stereotype whose every action is predictable and boring.”

“Nothing marks a writer as a beginner as clearly as the cliché bad guy.

This is the bad guy who is ugly inside and out with no redeeming qualities—this is the “boo-hiss” melodrama mustache twirling villain. And this is an easy fix in any story.

What’s that easy fix? Lots of things can help, but here are five quick fixes:

5 Quick Fixes to Make Readers Love Your Villains” –Shannon Donnelly

The article is definitely worth the read and I found myself thinking of one of my villains as I read Shannon’s advice.

I won’t say the assassin in “The Mystery of the Death Hearth” is exactly a lovable creature. Parzifal is, after all, a person who makes a living by killing. But he does have depth; that is to say as the story progresses, more is revealed about his background, his parents, his past and the horrid conditions among the less-than-honorable slave owners that helped create his inevitable destiny as a professional killer. He also has present-day motives that go beyond the daily, murderous tasks given him by criminal bosses. Parzifal has plans, high hopes for a new life, and a mental image of possibilities beyond his current circumstances having nothing at all to do with underworld crime. Does he manage to accomplish those personal goals? Can he successfully break away and fulfill his dreams? No spoilers here but I almost found myself rooting for this man even though he can and does make my protagonist’s life miserable to the brink of death.

I encourage a visit to writersinthestorm and read the rest of the Shannon’s article. Very interesting and informative.

Your next villain will appreciate it, too.

“What’s Your Book About?”

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If you’re published you will get multiple opportunities to present your book pitch. Be ready. It’s inevitable and something any author desiring sales should compose, practice, and be ready to recite in an instant.

During my book sales and signings, I have people walk up to my booth, pick up a copy of one of my works. They’ll turn it over, peruse the back cover, flip quickly through the pages before asking, “What’s the book about?”

I doubt L. Frank Baum ever mentioned his Wizard Of Oz in any form was about two women trying to kill each other over shoes, but I admit the short, humorous statement grabbed my attention. And that’s what your book pitch should do, albeit not quite so short. But it should hook your potential readers and book purchasers. But how to do that?

Joel Friedlander has some very helpful advice on this subject. I’ve re-posted a portion but I encourage anyone to visit Joel’s post for more on constructing your book pitch. Here’s just a portion of what Joel has to say on the subject:

Imagine for a moment that you’ve hopped into an elevator on your way somewhere. You’re carrying the proof of your book that just arrived from the printer. A gentleman sharing the elevator notices your book and says, “Hey, that looks interesting. What’s it about?”

What’s your response? Do you fumble, start in one direction then go in another? Do you find yourself just getting started when the elevator reaches the floor where this fellow has to get off? Have you made the most of this opportunity?

As an author, you will be asked many times what your book is about. Sometimes these inquiries are idle elevator chatter, but sometimes you’ll be asked the question by people crucial to your book’s success.

At a trade show, for example, you might get asked the same question and have about the same amount of time to answer. Talking to a bookstore buyer falls into the same category.

Those first 30 seconds are critical.

Will your pitch draw people in, make them curious about your book, and let them know right away whether or not it’s for them?

Your book pitch has to accomplish a number of things at the same time, and do them quickly and efficiently.

It has to give a good idea of the book’s genre, main hook or distinctive angle and why it’s different, exciting, or ground-breaking in some way.

Consider that all this information must be delivered in 40 to 60 seconds, and you can see why crafting a great pitch is a bit of an art form.

The sole purpose of a pitch is to create interest in your book. It has to make people want to know more.

 

Learn more by visiting Joel’s post “Why Your Book Pitch Matters (Even If You’re Self-Published)” 

 

20 Of The Best Articles On Writing

Reblogged from Chris over at the story reading ape blog

20 of the Best Articles on Writing – Real Eye Openers

by Hazel Longuet

It always astounds me just how much information there is to help writers and how much we need to know to succeed in this field. That’s one of the main reasons I compile this top 20 listing, of the best articles on writing, self-publishing and book promotion, every week. I trawl through the internet on my own search for knowledge and share what I find with all my writing friends and followers and their reaction distils it down further to the very best of the week. And, that my friends, is what I delight in sharing with you…saving you the bother of sifting the gold from the dirt.

Hazel is a novice writer trying to finish her first novel. She’s learning on the job and has shared some of her findings on writing. Read the entire interesting and informative post by visiting Hazel’s blog.